Johnny Boychuk
(Corey Sipkin)

On Wednesday morning, November 27th, the Islanders came out with disheartening news. Long time veteran, Johnny Boychuk would be ending his career in the National Hockey League. 

Late in the 2019-2020 regular season, Boychuk took a skate to the eye. Yes, you read that right. He was hit in the eye with the blade of Montreal Canadians skater, Arturri Lekonen. Due to lingering effects including optic nerve damage, his peripheral vision is permanently impaired. 

The announcement did, however, come as a surprise to quite a few people. Boychuk reported in June, his recovery was almost 100%. He later stated he had avoided thinking about it because he wanted to continue playing hockey. 

In the NHL Bubble qualifying round, he took another hard hit from a Florida Panthers skater. It left him concussed and sidelined until the last two games of the Eastern Conference Final. 

“When I got hit, I realized that it might’ve been — I wouldn’t say a dirty hit — but I didn’t see him coming,” he said. “I knew I should’ve been able to see him at least a little bit and I didn’t. I realized that something was off…” 

-Boychuk said in an emotional Zoom news conference on Wednesday  (New York Post

The initial cut in March required 90 stitches and plastic surgery to repair. A team of doctors as well as the Islanders athletic trainers decided it won’t be safe for Boychuk to continue playing. If he were to play again and couldn’t see someone coming at him, it could result in an even worse hit with even bigger repercussions.

Johnny “Rocket” Boychuk will retire with 725 games and 206 points. He was drafted 61st overall in the 2002 draft by the Colorado Avalanche. Boychuck was traded to the Boston Bruins in 2008, where he eventually won the Stanley Cup in 2011. 

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